There’s something hugely satisfying about building your own gadgets. I remember playing around with electronics as a kid, following circuit diagrams to create a simple switched LED on a solderless breadboard. Today’s children have the opportunity to make so much more. Like DIY Disco Umbrellas.
It’s why Technology Will Save Us exists and why the company has recently raised £1.2 million to expand a product range that includes solar-powered moisture sensors for plants and music-making DIY Synth Kits. We’ve covered UKIE’s Digital Schoolhouse project already on IQ, which uses DIY Gamer Kits that allow kids to build their own game consoles.
Based in East London, Tech Will Save Us is run by Daniel Hirschmann and Bethany Koby, a husband and wife team who want to address society’s flawed relationship with technology. Their mission? To spark the creative imagination of young people using hands-on technology that includes a range of tech-based do-it-yourself electronics kits, activities and online resources.
“Having taught alongside our developing careers, we were both aware of the crisis in technology education,” says Bethany Koby. “While kids are very much consumers of technology, they typically find computing complex and scary. By authentically merging the physical world of making with digital programming tools, we are presenting complex skills in a unique and highly accessible way.”
Tech Will Save Us describes its self-assembly gizmos as “gifts to inspire future inventors.” Suitable for children aged 4+, the company has already sold over 50,000 DIY Electro Dough, DIY Gamer, DIY Synth, DIY Speaker and DIY Arduino Kits to customers in over 87 countries. It also designed the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer with built-in motion detection, compass and Bluetooth that will be given away to one million schoolchildren.
“I’ve been lucky enough to see first-hand how Tech Will Save Us has sparked our student’s creativity through engaging and forward thinking tech activities,” says Mark Fowler, Teacher of Design and Technology at Highbury Fields School in Islington.
“Our girls went from no knowledge of electronics to creating a working synthesiser in an hour and half, our students loved every second of it. We are part of a huge global technological shift that schools are struggling to keep up with but TWSU is at the forefront of bringing technology, problem solving and fun together in their products. They offer an introduction into the future proofed skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Like the Ohbot robotic head kit, Tech Will Save Us kits open up the world of electronics and programming in fun and accessible ways. More importantly, they provide an important stepping stone towards more advanced Maker projects like those enabled by Raspberry Pi, Arduino and Intel Edison hardware.
As Tech Will Save Us points out on its blog: 65% of children entering school this year could go on to have a job that doesn’t exist yet. It’s a sobering thought and it’s why Hirschmann and Koby believe that it’s important to “encourage children to get hands on with technology”, stimulating creativity, imagination and fun. And if that means building DIY Disco Umbrellas, then so be it. — Dean Evans (@evansdp)